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How Do We Protect Our Lower Back When Lifting Or Playing Sports?

man and woman getting ready for a heavy deadlift

We had a blast hosting the CHP deadlift lab right here in Bethesda!

During the workshop we learned how to optimally create internal pressure in order to protect our lower back when lifting weights. This is one of the first things that we teach in physical therapy and is of particular importance for people that lift weights or play sports. 

As human beings, we protect our lower backs by creating intra-abdominal pressure. This is the pressure that we create within our abdominal cavity and increases the stability of the spine.

As an example, imagine that you are going to lift the heaviest object that you can off of the floor. What is the first thing that you do?

Most people take a big breath in and then brace their abs.

The purpose of this action is to create as much pressure as is possible within your abdominal cavity, thus creating the maximum amount of stability possible for the spine.

This is a great thing to do as you are performing one repetition of an activity with maximal effort, however is not sustainable for a longer period of time.

In the video below, Dr. Cody is teaching us how to most effectively create pressure when deadlifting so that we can protect our lower back. The principles Dr. Cody is teaching applies to all activities that we perform in the gym, and many out of the gym as well!

How to brace effectively

The next time you are lifting something, it may be worth asking yourself if you are feeling your lower back. If so, attempt to exhale fully to find your abs before inhaling to build pressure. In addition to abdominals, you should be feeling hamstrings and glutes.

Now give it a shot!

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